New Taipei, Buddhist group to establish altar to mourn Thai king

by Lee Hsin-Yin, Focus Taiwan, Oct 16, 2016

Taipei, Taiwan -- New Taipei City government and Ling Jiou Mountain Buddhist Society announced on Sunday that they will jointly establish a public altar for those who want to mourn the death of Thailand's revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who died on Thursday at the age of 88.

The altar at the Sanchong Arena will be open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Oct. 20-21 so that the 70,000 Thai workers and immigrants in Taiwan can mourn the passing of the king without having to return home, the organizers said.

The New Taipei government also said it would contact employers and brokers to ensure proper arrangements are made for those Thai workers who want to visit the altar to pay their last respects to the king.

In addition to memorial services, there will also be an exhibition about the late Thai king and his friendship with Taiwan, according to the organizers.

The Buddhist society said it shared a close relationship with Bhumibol Adulyadej, adding that it worships three Buddha statues, the original spirits of which are enshrined in Thailand.

Public altars have so far been set up in Taoyuan, Kaohsiung, Taichung and Tainan cities. On Sunday, Taoyuan Mayor Cheng Wen-tsan (???) attended a memorial service at the altar for the late king.

King Bhumibol, the longest-reigning monarch in the world, died in hospital on Thursday after battling a long illness. He is highly revered in Thailand and was seen as a unifying figure in a country plagued by deep political divisions.

As of the end of August this year, there were more than 57,000 Thai migrant workers and over 8,600 Thai spouses and immigrants in Taiwan, according to statistics from the Ministry of Labor and National Immigration Agency.